Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has published some of the details of her new “assault weapons” ban, and it’s even uglier than anticipated. It is expected to be formally introduced on Jan. 22, the first day the Senate accepts bills for the new session.
Meanwhile, on the first day of the new session in the House of Representatives, several legislators introduced – or reintroduced – a variety of anti-rights bills. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., has four bills: H.R.137 requiring background checks on all firearm transfers, H.R.138 banning possession and transfer of magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds, H.R.141 regulating gun shows and H.R.142 requiring licensing of ammunition dealers, reporting of bulk ammunition purchases and banning mail-order purchase of ammunition. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., reintroduced his registration and licensing bill as H.R.34, and Rush Holt, D-N.J., introduced a licensing and registration bill of his own, H.R.117.
One of the most insidious pieces of legislation offered so far is from Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. It is H.R.21, a bill he calls the “NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act of 2013.” The title is based on Moran’s claim that the provisions of the bill are, according to some polling, supported by self-identified members of the NRA. The bill does not have the backing or endorsement of the NRA or any member in good standing of that organization, nor is it supported by any other legitimate firearms organization. H.R.21 mandates background checks on all firearm sales or transfers, including gifts to relatives, bequests to children and grandchildren, and transactions between friends and shooting buddies. The fine print of the bill contains a clause designed to facilitate gun registration, and it also mandates background checks on gun shop employees – something that is a smart business practice, but which is currently forbidden by federal laws.
In addition, the bill gives the attorney general discretion to deny any transfer to anyone he deems to be connected to terrorism. While that provision sounds reasonable, it’s important to recognize that when the AG denies a transfer on these grounds, he does not have to disclose his reason to the prospective purchaser, and he can decide that even peripheral involvement with an unpopular group such as a militia group, an anti-abortion group, or even the NRA or the tea party, could qualify as a disqualifier – and he doesn’t have to explain his rationale. The bill further requires that gun owners report lost or stolen firearms within 48 hours – another seemingly reasonable provision fraught with potential for misapplication – and establishes federal standards for the issuance of “concealed firearms permits,” which would invalidate constitutional carry provisions in states like Vermont, Arizona and Alaska.
Over on the executive side, Vice President Joe Biden and his panel commissioned to look into ways to prevent future school shootings, but called a “task force on gun violence,” is looking seriously at changes in regulations that might be implemented without the bother of going through Congress. Among the suggestions are restrictions on importation of firearms and accessories, requirements that all multiple gun transfers within a specified time be reported to the ATF and changes to regulatory definitions, which would push a variety of commonly owned rifles and shotguns into the category of machine guns and destructive devices. This last idea would make these guns subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act, requiring extensive background checks, police permission and a $200 transfer tax for each firearm. Biden has also said he is trying to get major firearm and ammunition retailers like Wal-Mart to betray gun owners by supporting additional sales restrictions.
The VP says he is under tremendous time pressure as the public’s memory is short, and the administration wants action to be taken before the sting, anger and heartbreak over the massacre in Newtown, Conn., wears off. (Never let a crisis go to waste.)
Feinstein’s proposal, as it’s described on her website, would totally ban manufacture, importation and sale of firearms she calls “assault weapons” including hundreds of specifically named firearms and any others that exhibited just one “military feature” like a barrel shroud, pistol grip, or threaded barrel. It provides for “grandfathering” existing “assault weapons,” but would require that those all be registered under the NFA and treated like machine guns (as described above). It’s not clear whether they would be allowed to be transferred like machine guns or would have to be destroyed upon the original owner’s death. Feinstein’s proposal is also unclear as to whether existing magazines would be grandfathered at all and appears to make mere possession of an 11-round or greater magazine a felony.
In a recent interview, the president said that he’s not going to wait on this issue but is going to drive forward with everything he’s got, setting the stage for a bloody brawl like we saw over Obamacare during his first term. All to pass laws and restrictions that have been proven to be totally ineffective at reducing crime, suicides, or accidental injuries.
Unlike the health-care debate, though, the proposals for new gun control would make instant felons out of hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of otherwise law-abiding citizens and subject those people to being arrested, incarcerated, or even killed, simply for continuing to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to arms.
How many lives would be lost or destroyed before people figured out that this was a bad idea?
The Firearms Coalition has taken a stand in total opposition to all of these proposals, and has joined with other uncompromising rights organizations to form the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban. If you or your organization – whether a firearm group or not – would like to join our coalition, simply send contact information to [email protected].